One statistic I heard the other day about runners was that about 70-75% of runners cannot go a year without taking time off due to an injury. That number is a staggering number. There has been a lot of time poured into discovering what causes these injuries and how to prevent them. There are different ways to help prevent injuries like bad knees, but I would like to talk about a pre-run warm up.
If you have ever seen “Zombieland”, there are a set of rules the main character keeps a log of in a notebook in order to survive Zombieland. There was a point in the movie where they found a hostess truck and the kick-butt cowboy was out to get himself a Twinky. This is where we learned of rule #18 “limber up”. As he looks a little ridiculous doing his “limber up” exercises, he is quite right in the concept to prevent injuries.
A lot of people will put on their shoes and go for a run. Their muscles are tight and the blood is not flowing yet. This could cause some overuse and hyper extension early on in the run. This could be a small problem but mostly results at some point to be a big problem. Take it from me, I have battled plenty of injuries through the years including multiple ITB problems, a ruptured Achilles, a stress fracture in my tibia, and slight pulls in my hip flexors.
One piece of the puzzle is to incorporate about 8-10 minutes of warming up. This includes a few dynamic movements and static stretches. Let me list off a few that you can do.
This is a very simple movement, just run with high knees for about 15 meters and back. Make sure you are at least getting your knees up to waist level and you are moving quickly. The point is not to get to the 15 meters quickly but to get as many knee lifts in till you get there. Make sure you move your arms.
Instead of getting your knees up high, you are getting those heels up high. Again, you want to go about 15 meters or so and back, trying to get as many repetitions moving quickly.
Going 15 meters again and back, you are going to be running sideways. Making sure you lift your trail knee high, crossing in front of you, and the lead leg pulling behind.
Find yourself something to hold on to like a tree, fence, or wall. Facing that object you will lift your right leg out to the side at least 45 degrees with the ground. Swing that leg in front of you and then swing it back. Do this about 15-20 times per leg.
Squat down low to the ground with your butt against your heels, curving your back into a “C” shape, reaching forward. Make sure you are up on the balls of your feet heels a little bit off the ground. Hold this position about 30 seconds. You should feel a slight stretch in your lower back, gluts, and calves.
Now there are other exercises, stretches, and dynamic movements your can incorporate into your warm-up routine. I just want to remind you that the warm up does not have to be extensive. Keep it around 8 minutes as you are just trying to get the blood moving and loosen up. Be consistent with this every time before you run to prevent injuries and you will be on your way to becoming a better runner.
If you have any warm-ups you do and would like to share or you just want to add to the conversation, leave a comment.